Help! My child loves dinosaurs! - Some of the Best Dinosaur Picture Books

My 3 year old son loves dinosaurs - REALLY loves them. It was his obsession that inspired our new Personalised Dinosaur Ex Libris stamp.

It is rare bedtime that he will let us read him any story that doesn't feature a dino in some guise. For that reason that I have been searching high and low for some great picture books about dinosaurs - not really for his sake, but because reading the same one over and over again was driving us mad. I'm sharing them here as an act of mercy for any other families who are similarly afflicted.

The Wonderful Egg by Dahlov Ipcar
(Flying Eye)

A sumptuous book from a picture book master. Flying Eye have lovingly recreated this edition by labouriously recreating the original colour separations used to print back in the 1960s, and this attention to detail really pays off in the print quality and colours. These details will please the design-savvy parent and the simple story, introducing all kinds of dinosaurs big and small will delight little ones. The 'science' might be a bit dated and pedants may protest, but I think it's a lovely way to introduce the concept of evolution.

If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most (Houghton Mifflin)

A great hit with my son, this book imagines how dinosaurs would help us in the modern world if they came back. A refreshing change from the usual emphasis on roaring and scaring people, and pleasingly whimsical in places.

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton (HarperFestival)

Perfect for little ones with bright naive artwork, this introduces different dinosaur characteristics with text that is easy and quick to read at bedtime. My son loves the 'white poos' at the beginning (a triceratops laying eggs).

Gnash, Gnaw, Dinosaur by Tony Mitton & Lynne Chapman (Kingfisher)

A book of dino poems with a real WOW factor when it comes to the fold out pages, creating BIG dinosaurs, generating lots of 'Ooooh's. This one seems to be out of print, but is definitely worth seeking out.



Pop-Up Dinosaur abc by Robert Crowther (Candlewick Press)

I have fond memories of Crowther's animal abc book from my childhood so was thrilled to find this dinosaur version. The pop-ups and design are simple but effective, and the abc format means you're introduced to some less common dinosaurs.

Dino (a pet unlike any other) by Diego Vaisberg (Templar Publishing)

Print-enthusiast parents will definitely want to get their hands on Dino, with it's spectacular Risograph artwork. (Speaking as a picturebook geek this has one of my favourite page-turns ever).  The story about the problem of having a pet dinosaur is sure to please young ones too.  From googling I can see that this title started out as a risographed zine and am glad to say the energy has transferred to conventional book - LOVE IT!
(For those who don't know, a Risograph is like a cross between a photocopy and a screen print).


What the Dinosaurs did Last Night by Refe & Susan Tuma (Little, Brown Young Readers, US)

From skimming (the excessively long and self indulgent introduction) this book was born out of two parents messing around with toy dinosaurs so that every morning their children discovered new mischief around their home. The photos are very amusing, as are the captions (which young children won't get at all, but good for the grown ups). We tend to just look at the pictures and talk about them.
Whenever this one is chosen I briefly flirt with having a go at doing this myself with our toy dinosaurs... then realise how much time and effort that would take and revert to sitting on the sofa in a post-bedtime exhausted haze.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs by Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart

I include this one with the caveat that it is not for small children - unless under very strict supervision. But I had to include it because it is the most spectacular pop-up book you can imagine, with multiple pop-ups per spread (35 in total) and packed with information. It's now out of print, unsurprising as I have no idea how such a piece of complex paper engineering was ever made for under £25. You can get functioning second hand copies for about £35 and I think this still represents excellent value.






7 great Alphabet books

To celebrate our new kids alphabet (available as Ex Libris book stamps or Birth Announcement stamps), I thought I'd share some of my favourite alphabet books.

I tried to get the list down to 5, but each of these has something special, so in the end there are 7...


1. Alphabet by Alison Jay
Large board book – Templar Publishing

Not only in this ABC packed with Alison Jay’s unique crackled illustrations, but it’s stuffed to the rafters with detail. On the surface ‘F is for Frog’, but the image reveals fish and flowers and a fence and a fishing rod and two kinds of fly and, if you look really closely, a fork. There are also references to images and characters on other pages and taken together the alphabet is a loose story (or journey). You and your child will get a lot out of this – highly recommended.

Jane Foster’s ABC
Board book – Templar Publishing

In terms of simple, eye-catching design that babies will love, you can’t beat Jane Foster’s alphabet. A satisfying object in itself. (And then you can buy the mugs and tea towels and everything else!)

Dahlov Ipcar’s Wild Animal Alphabet
Board book – Islandport Press 

I’ve recently discovered Ipcar’s books and am slightly besotted with her illustrations. I am usually a bit wary of alphabet books that just piece together images from the author’s existing work (lazy!), but I’ve made an exception in this case because the images are so appealing, and because she’s made a good effort at creating some interesting rhyming text that is good to read out loud. 

Lucy & Tom’s a.b.c. by Shirley Hughes
Puffin books (out of print)

I know I’m always harping on about Shirley Hughes books, but it’s only because they are so good. This one is out of print, but copies are available cheaply. (I notice some of the other Lucy and Tom titles have been reissued, so fingers crossed.)

What makes this alphabet book stand out is that it does what Hughes does so well, by relating back to real life. The book is full of little stories and vignettes from Lucy and Tom’s very normal life – exactly how children really learn their alphabet, by looking at the things around them. There is loads to look at and engage with for young children. This is a current favourite of my 3.5 year old and always results in lengthy conversations.

Quentin Blake’s ABC
Red Fox Picture Books

Quentin Blake’s alphabet is as anarchic, entertaining and poignant as his other work. The quality of the text and illustrations means I couldn’t miss it off.

Eating the Alphabet
Board Book - HMH Books for Young Readers (USA)

This one is from the USA and so despite the inevitable Aubergine/Eggplant problem I think it’s a great idea, executed well. Lovely bright illustrations and as it’s all fruit and vegetables, a subject that would make Jamie Oliver very happy indeed.

Beautiful Birds by J. Roussen & E. Walker
Flying Eye books   

This book showcases publisher Flying Eye’s production values to nth degree – it’s stunning! – Rich colours and amazing neon. No mention of an alphabet on the cover, but it’s a true ABC of avian delights inside. The text rhymes and so is great to read to little ones, but this book is so gorgeous, I doubt you’ll want to let them get their grubby little paws on it. This is an alphabet book for all ages, but mainly for you. Get and it and treasure it.

Bloomfield & Rolfe's Top 5 Kids Books

It's Children's Book Week this week (an initiative of wonderful BookTrust) and this got us thinking about our favourite books from our childhoods.

The young Bloomfields enjoying some book time (drawing from Jenny's 'Drawing a day challenge' - click the image to visit her instagram page)

The young Bloomfields enjoying some book time (drawing from Jenny's 'Drawing a day challenge' - click the image to visit her instagram page)


Because everyone loves a list, here are both of our top 5s (in no particular order) - both of us went for nostalgia rather than anything more academically critical.


“Sadly, I have extremely patchy memories of pre-school picture books but very strong emotional ties to those of later childhood, the classic tales of adventure and imagination: 'The Secret Garden', 'Tom's Midnight Garden' and Helen Cresswell’s 'The Moondial' (are you sensing a theme here?!). Aside from these more 'grown-up' stories here are my five favourite bookish memories from childhood."


1. 'I Like This Poem' - edited by Kaye Webb
“I loved poetry as a child, both writing and reading it. I remember Kaye Webb’s classic ‘I like this poem’ always being near at hand, so soft and tattered now after years of use. Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘Cats sleep anywhere’ that I read aloud in assembly and Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic ‘From a railway carriage' with its incredible pace and rhythm. I also really liked progressing through the chapters, based on age and delineated by beautiful monochrome illustrations. 12 seemed so far away…..”

2. 'No Time To Be Bored: Exciting things to make and do' - Eve Harlow
“Spending a lot of time alone especially pre-digital distraction meant even for a child who enjoyed her own company I would fairly often by heard exclaiming "I'm bored!" – only to be presented with the below; another retro classic, resurrected from the 70s by the looks of those stripes…”

3. The Adventures of Olga da Polga (series) by Michael Bond
“Guinea pigs traditionally have a sacrosanct place in our family as my sisters had them as kids so I'm assuming one of them must have given me the classic 'Olga da Polga' - all about a boastful and tall-tale telling Guinea pig.”

4. 'The Worst Witch' by Jill Murphy
"Who doesn't love the adventures of Mildred Hubble and magical pals? They were stirring cauldrons and rocking spells before Hermione’s parents had performed their first root canal.”

5. 'ANT and BEE and the Rainbow' by Angela Banner
"The one where they paint the old tyre to look like a rainbow! Just too cool – and ahead of their time when it comes to upcycling."



“In contrast to Holly, I have very strong memories of my picture books, perhaps because I have rediscovered many of them with my own kids. Some of the images are so etched into my subconscious they epitomise what they depict (see the Lucy & Tom book below).”

1. ‘Lucy & Tom at the Seaside’ by Shirley Hughes
“I could have picked any of the ‘Lucy & Tom’ series (sadly now out of print) as I know them all inside out, but I picked this because the illustrations are particularly beautiful. Apart from a dated reference to ‘going for a bathe’ it is still completely relevant and something of a guide of ‘what to do’ when you’re at the British seaside. My daughter loves it too.”
(see my review of ‘Lucy & Tom’s Christmas’ here)

2. ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl
“Don’t need to say much about this. Roald Dahl (and Quentin Blake) dominated my childhood and I think this is my favourite (at least it is today).”

3. ‘White Boots’ by Noel Streatfeild
“I was a little obsessed with this, and ‘Ballet Shoes’ too. I was the least likely child to be able to figure skate (or ballet dance) so I guess it was pure escapism.”

4. ‘Johnny the Clockmaker’ by Edward Ardizzone
“I never actually owned this as a child, but repeatedly borrowed it from the library, and my mum then bought me a copy as an adult. It is such a gentle story about a boy who makes a grandfather clock, despite everyone laughing at the idea (I like someone who has an idea and follows through!). Ardizzone’s illustrations are brilliant too of course.”

5. ‘Mr Magnolia’ by Quentin Blake
“I reviewed this one this week! Nonsense at its best!” (see the review here)





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Bloomfield out and about: Hatch Show Print, Nashville, TN

Having reached Nashville, I stumbled over this gem yesterday - Hatch Show Print - a fully functioning letterpress poster studio that's been going since 1879, and is still creating hand-inked, hand-printed show posters for big acts today (or for smaller ones, someone's wedding 'save-the-date' was on the press).



The whole shop was a bit of a print-enthusiasts wet dream - ancient cabinets stuffed floor to ceiling with wood and metal type; archive posters pasted to the rafters. Special images are traditionally hand-carved in wood, or more commonly these days, lino (but wood is preferred by one of the main artists who says she gets a better line and ink saturation with wood).




As this is the second chance letterpress discovery of this trip the world must be trying to tell me something!

The Bloomfield & Rolfe Postcard Project

Long before Bloomfield & Rolfe was even thought about, Bloomfield and Rolfe the people set about having an old fashioned correspondence. Real letters, stamps, and spittle to send the missives on their way. It may not be efficient, or particularly convenient, but getting something handwritten through the post, with texture and finger marks and crossings out, is a rare treat and can cheer the gloomiest spirits after a tech-saturated day. We've been lax of late. Blame baby Bloomfield and Rolfe's wedding prep. So we wanted a project that would compel us to get back on the snail-mail wagon, but encourage a bit of creativity along the way.

So, I am very pleased to announce the Bloomfield & Rolfe postcard project is officially open! There are no rules, or limits or deadlines. Just send each other a postcard approximately once a week. We can make our own or buy off the shelf or whatever else comes our way.

We'll post them up on the blog as they come...


Big Book Little Book Cardboard Box

I've just received my 'big book little book cardboard box' bookcase to house my daughter's books. What a fab idea - it keeps them all in one place and she can flip through to look at all the covers. Such a simple concept.



It seems that Big Book Little Book Cardboard Box are as passionate about getting little ones to love reading as we are at Bloomfield & Rolfe. Bravo on a great product!

(and watch this space as the potential to customise my box has already got my mind whirring)

Tom Frost's postage stamps

I love postage stamps, and have dabbled with large scale screen prints myself (see below bottom 2 photos) - I especially like the qualities of old stamps which were printed on cheap paper in a limited colour palette and which speak of long distances and the long lost art of correspondence. So I am rather smitten by these original designs by Tom Frost, which combine that wonderful aesthetic with fine British creatures. Bravo!





Project: From Russia with Love

June 2010 saw Bloomfield and Rolfe holiday in Russia. After taking in Moscow and St Petersburg we promised each other a piece of art inspired by the trip (we did the same after Sicily in 2003 to great success). As neither piece of art has yet materialised we've agreed to help things along with a deadline: we must both produce our artwork by 30th June when we have our Bloomfield & Rolfe summer meeting. Here are a few images from that trip - I was particularly taken with the folk-style illustration in rich colour palettes was a real dominant aesthetic. (I was surprised that there appears no book on the subject, in English at least).

[caption id="attachment_231" align="alignnone" width="300"] old postcard I picked up[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_233" align="alignnone" width="300"]big chicken Bought off the street from the artist in Moscow

Big cat
Another from the same artist[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_234" align="alignnone" width="770"] From The Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin... All Russian Orthodox churches were stuffed with these sorts of panels which just made me think of comic strips.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_229" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Soviet posters[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignnone" width="1024"] found this one in a fish restaurant (of course!)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_230" align="alignnone" width="1024"] And just for fun.... what do you do outside Lenin's tomb? Jazz hands![/caption]

All things alphabetical - dead words and more

Rolfe and I have been looking at text and typefaces recently ahead of putting together some text-based designs for Christmas 2012 (watch this space). With this in mind I thought I'd share some beautiful alphabets and typographical objects that I've come across in the last week or so. Dead words is a project by Karen To and memorialises 'dead words' which are no longer in a standard English dictionary. It's possible to contribute a new typeface to the site with a list of words to choose from. Here are some of my favourites. I might start using them in a bid to get them back in the dictionary. I'm definitely a little pamphageous, and am prone to uglyopgraphy and gaudiloquence!


Pamphagous (pam-fuh-gu),adj 1702-1702.  eating everything; all consuming.


Uglyopgraphy (uhg-lee-pog-ruh-ree), n. 1804 -1834; used by Southey. Bad handwriting


Gaudiloquent (goh-DIL-uh-kwuhnt), adj. 1656-1727; speaking joyfully or on joyful matters

I want one!

I love a board game. If it was up to me I'd live in the 1950s and it would be a prime source of entertainment. I especially love Scrabble. I also love wood. And typefaces. On this basis, this limited edition Typography edition of Scrabble by Andrew Capener is right up my street. You can pre-order one here, and at $199 it doesn't seem bad value for something so lovely (just look at the cabinet it is stowed in!) ... but they'll only accept orders from the USA which was a big disappointment when I was in such a click-happy frivolous purchasing mood.


And I love these ceramic tiles by Rory Dobner in all their intricacy.


I'm struck down with indecision when it comes to deciding what to spell out, but he's done numbers too so maybe I'll get my house number and adorn my entrance hall.


And finally...

Look what I picked up at a recent antiques fair - a lovely King Penguin from 1950 and a cover that begs to be framed, or at least strategically placed on a shelf.Image

[Bloomfield - Leeds, 17/04/2012]

Bloomfield: my new favourite thing

Look what I picked up on my recent trip to St Albans (to visit Rolfe) - a wonderful Imperial typewriter - the exact same model that I remember playing with as a child, before the evil-ease of the soft-touch keyboard and 'deleting on demand' invaded our lives forever. The Imperial

It's a mechanical wonder with an economy of design that only highlights today's excess: why bother having a numeral 1 when a 'l' serves just as well? And the complete absence of an exclamation mark removes the temptation to litter every paragraph with this much over-used punctuation mark - I'd be tempted to prescribe a couple of weeks on the Imperial to improve anyone's compositions.

Bashing out some correspondence on it is a wonderful stress buster; it's never occurred to me how noisy offices must have been way back when. I'm a much better typist than I was aged 9, but that doesn't stop a flurry of typos, which I like to think only add character.

And did I mention how GREAT it looks.

Rolfe 'out and about': Saturday at the charity shop

Today a midday call with Bloomfield to discuss workings on our forthcoming launch on Not On The High Street and action points for our own dear website. A dash to the post office to post an urgent order for Holly's Houses and a quick peruse in Oxfam - some fab purchases!

I am especially pleased with a gorgeous book of British birds from 1958 bound in turquoise bookcloth with a small embossed black bird on the cover and, inside, the most appealing black and white woodblock style illustrations alongside simple line drawings of each species - how Bloomfield & Rolfe!

Also note the wonderful patterns and sumptuous teal glaze on this ceramic box from Portugal; possible inspiration for some new stamp designs? Watch this space...